Israel Allows Food Aid Trucks to Enter Northern Gaza Directly For First Time Since Start of War: Live Updates

Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank are welcoming Ramadan with little of the usual cheer. Amid Israel’s continuing attacks in Gaza and rising violence in the West Bank, the holy month’s festive decorations and celebratory mood are being replaced by feelings of helplessness and despair.

“There’s no joy,” said Hana Karameh, a mother of five from the city of Hebron.

Ramadan this year will be “incomplete,” she said. Usually, on the night before the first fast of Ramadan begins, they would pray together with their neighbors and gather for suhoor — the pre-dawn meal — while children shot off fireworks.

On Sunday night, as the holy month dawned, she said, “there was none of that.”

Even before Ramadan, Ms. Karameh said she had a hard time sitting down for meals knowing that many people in Gaza were starving. “I keep asking myself, did they eat? Did they drink? ” she said.

Displaced Palestinians preparing the iftar meal outside a tent in Rafah, Gaza, on Monday.Credit…Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Ms. Karameh said that her husband would usually take their youngest children to the market to buy sweets and stock up on food the night before Ramadan began. Later he would take them to the mosque to pray Taraweeh, a daily Ramadan nighttime prayer. But this year, she said, the family could not do those things.

“We would usually be seven people at our iftar table,” she said, referring to the evening meal that breaks the fast. “But this year we will be five.”

Ms. Karameh’s husband, Jamal, 55, and her daughter Baraah, 19, were detained more than three months ago by Israeli forces and are being held in administrative detention, without charge or trial. They are among the more than 7,500 Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem who have been detained by Israeli forces since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks, according to the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited control over the West Bank.

Palestinians in the West Bank are also less likely to host lavish iftar meals this year because their economic situation has worsened over the last five months. Israeli restrictions and closures across the West Bank have left businesses struggling since Oct. 7.

“It’s a very different feeling compared to past years,” said Bassam Abu al-Rub, a journalist from the West Bank town of Jenin, who lives in Nablus. “I went to the supermarket and only bought basic ingredients because when we sit at the table to eat after seeing the scenes in Gaza, we feel heartbroken.”

A vendor selling qatayef, a traditional Ramadan desert, near Tulkarem in the West Bank on Monday.Credit…Alaa Badarneh/EPA, via Shutterstock

Worsening violence and regular Israeli raids in the West Bank have killed more than 425 people there since Oct. 7, according to the Palestinian health ministry in Ramallah — and the toll continues to climb. The ministry said on Wednesday that Israeli forces had killed two people overnight near the town of Al Jib. The Israeli military has said that the raids are a part of their counterterrorism efforts against members of Hamas in the West Bank.

“On top of the war in Gaza, the West Bank has been living a war since 2021,” Mr. Abu al-Rub said, referring to the year when Israeli raids, detentions and settler violence began to rise sharply in the occupied territory. “Imagine when you are living this emotional state of daily incursions, sounds of gunfire and gas bombs and regular detentions,” Mr. Abu al-Rub said in a phone call. “Of course you will fear further escalation” during the holy month, he added.

Mr. Abu al-Rub said that every year he would look forward to Israel granting him a permit to visit Jerusalem and pray at Al Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam. But this year, he did not have much hope that he would get to go.

Al Aqsa, which is on a site revered by Jews as the location of two ancient temples, has long been a point of contention, and in recent years Israel has exerted tighter control over it. On Monday, Israel’s agency overseeing policy for the Palestinian territories posted on Facebook that only men over the age of 55, women over the age of 50 and children under the age of 10 would be allowed to enter Israel from the West Bank to pray at Al Aqsa during Ramadan.

Gabby Sobelman contributed reporting.